did you write that article?
The problem with SpinRite is all the techy mumbo-jumbo and "quire of believers" "real life stories" presented, and the pretty complete lack of any technical information. Steve Gibson also has a tendency to make it seem like he's doing really amazing stuff (like mentioning a big list of filesystems supported, instead of simply stating that SpinRite accesses the disk directly and thus doesn't care about filesystems).
Documentation is sparse (even though SpinRite 6.0 is... how many years? old, there's still only 5.0 docs
available), and Steve Gibson has no interest in informing people what his application is actually doing, but instead uses made-up words like "data scrubbing", claims that SR can detect bits that are "between" 0 and 1 state, et cetera.
Oh, and if SR "magically repairs a drive", well sorry, it's simply the sector reallocation that all drives have incorporated the last many years that kicks in. So why does it kick in on SR and not windows chkdsk? Because drives only reallocates sectors that are written to - chkdsk doesn't re-write bad sectors, it notes down the bad sector in the NTFS $BadClus file.
Add to the mix that SR is pretty aggressive at trying to re-read bad sectors... this is obviously a good idea so you can retrieve the data, right? Yeah well, just how smart is it to stress a disk that's dying? You risk going from "I lost a few sectors of data" to "the read/write head crashed and now I have to pay OnTrack systems $insane to get physical reconstruction".
Instead of spending $89 on snake oil, the sane thing to do with a dying drive is creating an image file of the sectors you can
read, as fast as possible
. Then you can do aggressive re-read of the problem sectors, because with a partial image file, at least you don't lose the entire
drive. Once the remaining sectors have been read/given up upon, you re-write the bad sectors to have the drive reallocation kick in.
Presto, $89 saved. And obviously, whether you used SpinRite or just did a sane image + format, as soon as S.M.A.R.T reports a non-zero reallocated sector count, you should consider the drive dead, and never use it for anything but scratchpad. It might last months or years before dying, but it could just as easily be a matter of weeks.